According to the study, a forward-looking curriculum must focus on linguistic, mathematical and technological literacy because every job of the future will need them. - NSTP/SHAHRIZAL MD NOOR

THE next two decades promise a full-scale revolution in our working lives, says the World Economic Forum (WEF).

But it is not all bad news, though. This age of robots is also the age of jobs. A Dec 6, 2018, Financial Times’ report had this to say about the robot-job correlation: as the former reached record levels, the global unemployment level fell to 5.8 per cent — the lowest in 38 years.

As WEF concludes, high tech doesn’t mean high unemployment. But there is a big problem though. The world’s education system — and that includes Malaysia’s — is failing to prepare our young ones for the workplace of the future.

This is the finding of WEF’s 2017 report on “Realising Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The schools of 2019 are teaching the subjects they taught 100 years ago. The unfortunate result is that our 7-year-olds in school today would not be employable even after 12 years of education. Because they are not being prepared for the workplace of 2030.

So what is a future-ready curriculum? In the words of WEF, it is one that is “designed to impart knowledge and skills that have purchase in the modern workplace”. And how do we impart them? Like any pedagogy, it is about what to teach and how to teach.

According to the study, a forward-looking curriculum must focus on linguistic, mathematical and technological literacy because every job of the future will need them.

Non-cognitive skills, such as problem solving, critical thinking and creativity, would be a must too.

But the three who can do the triangle dance — the government, educators and industry — are not on the dance floor that often. At times it’s a tango. At times it’s a solo.

The victims are the young minds. This must change. A future-ready curriculum can only be effective if it is informed by what the market wants.

The three must triangulate if Malaysia wants to be a global champion. We may have no choice. Others have long triangulated.

Educators, too, need to be dynamic. The ivory tower must occasionally walk the factory floors so that the teaching can become real. Here is where the mind meets the market.

Otherwise, what is taught at lecture halls may remain just an abstraction. What is needed is application. The equation can be reversed with similar effect.

Industrialists, too, should take up teaching. Such efforts would bring the two different worlds of academia and industry onto a common space. Arguing from different premises helps neither.

Where do we start? At the very beginning, of course. One of the failures of our education system is we often miss to begin at the beginning.

If we want a learning and reading culture, then early childhood is the phase to start.

And it should not end there. Learning must be a life-long pursuit. To enable this, we need three things: education, education and education. From womb to tomb. Well, almost.